“To hire, or not to hire?” – that is the question…you ask yourself every time you interview a new candidate. The great hiring debate is one that trips up a lot of people and many small business owners. I get it. Hiring someone new is a big decision. So, how can you make sure you hire the right people for your small business?
After years of growing my own businesses, investing in businesses, funding them, helping others grow their businesses, succeeding (and failing) in business, I’ve gathered a lot of know-how around hiring. I know how to hire the right people, fire the wrong people, and what to look out for when searching for that perfect hire.
Now, it’s time for me to pass on some of that wisdom because number one, I’m feeling quite generous, and number two, I genuinely want to help you make the best hiring decisions for your small business.
Here are the three essential lessons for hiring in small businesses that every entrepreneur and small business owner needs to know:
1. Hire slow and fire fast
I know the whole “hire slow and fire fast” thing is tossed around the business space so much that it’s almost lost all meaning. However, it is so true. You should hire slow and fire fast. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to talk about giving people the “boot,” but this is your business. Do you really want to waste time and money on people who aren’t helping to move the business forward?
My advice is to hire slowly. Never hire the first person that applies for the job. Others will come along, so don’t rush into hiring somebody just because they happen to be the first to send in their application.
Never hire the best person from a bad bunch (or a mediocre bunch). If you’re not convinced that anyone in the current line-up of potential candidates is suitable for the role, let them all move along their merry way. You don’t have time to hire the wrong people.
Only hire people that you are 100% convinced that they are right for the role. When they join your team, give them small tests to get started. See if they can deliver on those tests. If they can, move them to something more challenging. If they (for lack of a better word) ‘crash and burn’ on those small tests, they will never be able to handle more significant tasks. Some people might lose their patience while taking the smaller tests, and these are the type of people that are not right for your business. If they don’t have enough patience in the early stages of joining a new business, they won’t have patience when you need them to do critical tasks.
Before you decide to hire somebody, make sure that they have the skills you need for your small business. Are they right for the role you’re hiring? Are they trainable? Are they a team player? These are the type of questions you must ask yourself when hiring in small businesses.
Clarify what you want people to do within the business. If they fail horribly, fire them (sorry, not sorry). Move onto the next one. You will never struggle to find new people that want to work for your business. Loads of people are looking for jobs, so don’t assume that you’re stuck with your last hire.
2. Put the right systems and processes in place
The second essential lesson for hiring in small businesses is making sure you have the right systems and processes in place. If you can’t or don’t want to put those systems and processes in place, hire somebody who can. Hire them early on too. Research shows that we make around 35,000 decisions a day. I have no idea how that is even possible, but it is.
Now for the scary part. Imagine you have ten people in your business. They all make thousands of decisions every day, but what are the chances that all of these decisions align? Not very likely. You can’t expect everyone’s decisions and opinions to align with yours and your business. The only way around this problem is to create repeatable systems and processes. That way, people know what they have to do and how to do it.
Expecting your team to know what you want them to do is absurd. You will be left disappointed because your business lacks the necessary systems and processes to ensure everyone is aligned and tasks can be repeated properly.
One of the most common reasons businesses fail is that the business lacks the right systems and processes. Never underestimate the power of having systems and processes!
3. Have the right job role description in place
You’d be surprised at how many small businesses don’t put much thought into their job role descriptions. A job role description needs more than a list of tasks that the candidate will be expected to do. It also needs to include how that person and their role fits within the overall system of your business.
The job description should inform people who they have to report to, what their accountabilities are, what they are responsible for, the KPIs, their expected outcomes, goals and results you expect them to achieve, and so on.
You must clarify all of these things as soon as you welcome a new hire into your business because if you don’t, they won’t know what they need to do. Not to mention, they’ll make a further 35,000 decisions a day and who knows if any of those decisions will align with what you actually want them to do.
The right job role description helps you and the people you hire know exactly what they are working towards. They are aware of the system and processes that will help them get there and everyone is aligned on what needs done.
Again, I will emphasise the importance of having the right systems and processes in place and hiring slowly. What’s the rush? By taking your time to hire the right person, you can be sure you made the right decision and hire somebody who will do exactly what you want them to.
When people know what is expected of them and what they need to achieve, it makes the firing process so much easier. Yes, it’s awkward and tense, but if they aren’t meeting expectations or doing what they are supposed to do (as outlined in the job description), you need to let them go and start the search again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you strike fear into the hearts of your employees. But they need to be aware of what they need to do and achieve to fit in with the amazing work culture and essentially, keep their jobs!
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